In an occupational field that can prove stressful to families due to the uncertainty of deployment, caring for loved ones has remained the focus throughout the military career of local resident Seth Fife.
After graduating from high school in 1992, Fife spent several years working in a job he viewed as "unsecure" until realizing he needed to find greater employment security if he was going to support a family.
"I made the decision to enlist in the National Guard during the fall of 1996," said Fife, 39, Jefferson City.
"Not only did I want to serve my country," he continued, "but I was getting ready to marry my girlfriend and knew I needed consistent employment in order to provide for a family."
After completing his initial training in the personnel services field, Fife spent several years working at the state headquarters for the Missouri National Guard. His duties included the maintenance of soldier personnel files and military retirement records.
He was promoted to the human resources sergeant for the state's recruiting battalion in 2007, where he oversaw the pay and personnel matters for soldiers serving within the battalion.
With years of personnel experience now under his belt, Fife soon discovered that all types of military specialties and backgrounds are needed in a combat zone.
Early last year, he received notice that he would mobilize for service in Afghanistan to replace a personnel specialist who had been injured and unable to deploy.
"I knew (the deployment) would eventually happen," Fife said. "My wife and I had been preparing for this event and it was simply a matter of waiting for the phone call."
Following accelerated deployment training at Fort Benning, Ga., Fife traveled to Jalalabad, Afghanistan, to meet up with the Agricultural Development Team V already stationed in country.
The unit's primary mission during the deployment was to assist the Afghan farmers in developing and rebuilding the country's agricultural capacity. Fife's primary duties were to track personnel assigned to the team and maintain personnel records.
Though the team did experience some minor injuries during the deployment, Fife said they were fortunate to suffer no casualties.
He returned to his position with the recruiting battalion after spending 10 months overseas, and is enjoying making up the time spent away from his wife, Jennifer, and their three children.
Regardless of the physical separations he has endured as part of his military commitments, Fife is thankful for the positive communication changes that have occurred in recent years benefiting deployed service members.
"While I was in Afghanistan, it was very easy to remain in contact with my family thanks to satellite internet systems," Fife said. "It was nice to have that connectivity with your loved ones while so many miles from home."
And from years of service centered around both service to the nation and caring for his family, Fife explains that his military career has been of practical benefit to his family.
"Overall, my time in the service has been full of wonderful encounters and has been a positive influence in my life," he said. "Not only do I have a retirement to look forward to, but it has ensured my family has the financial stability I once thought unattainable."
Jeremy P. Amick is the public affairs officer for the Silver Star Families of America.